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U.S. Driving in September 2015 Highest Ever Total Miles, Federal Data Show

Matt Ball on November 23, 2015 - in Corporate, Transportation

WASHINGTON – New data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that U.S. driving reached 259.9 billion miles in September 2015, and nearly 2.4 trillion miles so far this year. Compared to the same month a year earlier, September 2015 was the largest single-month percentage gain – 4.3 percent – since January, which was up 4.9 percent.

The new data, published in FHWA’s latest “Traffic Volume Trends” report – a monthly estimate of U.S. road travel – show that the miles driven in September were the most ever in September of any year, which reinforces calls to increase federal investment in transportation infrastructure as demands on the nation’s highway system continue to grow.

With the September 2015 estimates, the series of consecutive monthly mileage increases now stands at 19 months.

The September 2015 report also includes seasonally-adjusted data, which is conducted by USDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics as a way to even out impact of weather, holidays, and other factors in travel and enable VMT comparisons with any other month in any year.

The seasonally-adjusted vehicle miles traveled for September 2015 were 264 billion miles, a 3.4 percent increase in adjusted VMT – compared to the previous September but a 0.2 percent decrease compared with seasonally adjusted August 2015 figure. The estimates include passenger vehicle, bus and truck travel.

In September, drivers increased total mileage among all five regions of the United States. Traffic in the South Gulf – an eight-state region that includes Texas, Mississippi and Kentucky – led the nation with 52 billion unadjusted VMT. With only 38.7 billion unadjusted VMT, the Northeast – a nine-state area stretching from Pennsylvania to Maine – had the least.

At 7.6 percent, Michigan led the nation with the largest unadjusted single-state traffic percent increase compared to the same month a year earlier, followed by Arkansas at 7.2 percent and Hawaii at 6.7 percent.

The new figures confirm the trends identified in “Beyond Traffic,” a USDOT report issued earlier this year, which projects a 43 percent increase in commercial truck shipments and population growth of 70 million by 2045. The report examines the trends and choices facing America’s transportation infrastructure over the next three decades, including a rapidly growing population, increasing freight volume, demographic shifts in rural and urban areas, and a transportation system that is facing more frequent extreme weather events. Increased gridlock nationwide can be expected unless changes are made in the near-term.

To review the VMT data in FHWA’s “Traffic Volume Trends” reports, which are based on information collected from more than 5,000 continuous count stations nationwide, visithttp://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/travel_monitoring/tvt.cfm.

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